Botulism, What is it?
7/24/07 Ready for Anything Now.com
Clostridium botulinum are a group of bacteria commonly found in
soil. These bacteria release a nerve toxin that causes paralysis.
Adults generally get infected by eating contaminated food or by
getting the bacteria in a open wound. Infants sometimes put contaminated
objects into their mouth. Botulism is a medical emergency and can be fatal.
About 110 cases of Botulism are reported in the U.S. every year. The
- double vision
- blurred vision
- drooping eyelids
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
- dry mouth, and muscle weakness
Infants with botulism appear
- feed poorly
- are constipated
- have a weak cry
- poor muscle tone.
These are the initial symptoms of muscle paralysis. If untreated arms,
legs and eventually breathing can be affected. Symptoms generally begin in
18 to 36 hours after being infected, but they may begin within 6 hours or
take as long as 10 days to develop.
Antitoxins are used to treat botulism in the early stages, later
stages may require hospitalization to keep the patient alive due to the
effects of the toxin. Because of effective treatments very few patients die
of botulism, if medical treatment isn't available up to 50% of infected
individuals may not survive.
"Botulism can be prevented.
Foodborne botulism has often been from home-canned foods with low acid
content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn. However, outbreaks
of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chile
peppers, tomatoes, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum
foil, and home-canned or fermented fish. Persons who do home canning should
follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods. Oils
infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated. Potatoes which have
been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served
or refrigerated. Because the botulism toxin is destroyed by high
temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the
food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety. Instructions on safe
home canning can be obtained from county extension services or from the US
Department of Agriculture. Because honey can contain spores of
Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of infection for
infants, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey. Honey is
safe for persons 1 year of age and older. Wound botulism can be prevented
by promptly seeking medical care for infected wounds and by not using
injectable street drugs."
For more information
USDA Home Canning Guide